An operator is urging its clients to pursue Ryanair for refunds for flights cancelled owing to the pandemic and donate the cash to charity.
Simpson Travel said while it had been able to obtain refunds from the likes of British Airways, easyJet and Jet2.com for flights hit by the Covid crisis, it had "not received a penny" from Ryanair.
The Irish budget carrier claims operators packaging Ryanair flights are acting as third parties in breach of its terms and conditions, and is refusing to pay out to operators.
However, it has agreed to pay customers back if they apply for refunds directly online via the Ryanair website.
Simpson Travel operations director Ed Pyke said if every one of its clients with outstanding refunds from Ryanair sought a refund from the airline and donated it to charity, it would raise nearly £50,000 for good causes.
The operator has stressed it has otherwise refunded or rebooked all other elements of clients trips cancelled owing to the pandemic that featured Ryanair flights.
"We are determined to try to make the best of a challenging situation and have come up with what we hope is a win-win idea for our customers," said Pyke.
Simpson has contacted all affected clients to suggest they apply to Ryanair for a refund and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice, or the Together for Short Lives charity, which is the operator’s chosen cause.
"We’re delighted to report initial feedback from clients has been overwhelmingly positive and are hopeful that we will raise a substantial amount to help for some very important causes," said Pyke. "If everyone chooses to participate, it could be as much as £48,000."
Pyke said after an "unbelievably difficult" year for so many people, including those in the travel industry, the company was committed to giving back when it can and to "make a positive out of a negative".
"We honoured our commitment to all clients affected by a cancellation, either by offering a full refund, deferring and rebooking their flights with another airline, or by transferring the balance of their holiday to a suitable alternative," said Pyke.
"In the case of our package holidays, we were often required to refund and rearrange flights bought on behalf of our clients before we had received a refund from the airline. Though the process was slow, we were eventually able to recover the cost of these flights from British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com and others.
"Alas, in the case of Ryanair, we have not received a penny. While we have followed all necessary and sensible protocols, Ryanair maintain we are a third party and as such are refusing to deal with us and all other tour operators who bought their flights in good faith."
In February, when Simpson challenged Ryanair on its refund stance and claimed its clients were owed tens of thousands of pounds, a spokesperson for the budget carrier said it had "no liability or debt to any third party travel agent/operator, who make unauthorised bookings on our website in breach of Ryanair’s terms and conditions".
"All Ryanair passengers who booked via an unauthorised third party travel agent/operator can request their refund via Ryanair’s customer verification form, accessible on the Ryanair.com website," said the spokesperson.
"Travel agents/operators are aware of this process and are failing to communicate it to consumers, as this will expose the fact that they have overcharged these customers for fares that are higher than that paid to Ryanair, or they have added hidden or excessive fees and charges to their unsuspecting consumers."